The Dodgers are currently sitting on top of the NL West division with a record of 59-47. After a rocky start to the season in which the team struggled to score runs and close out games, the Dodgers have righted the ship and come together as a team. This has mainly come about by unsuspecting players stepping up and playing at an elite level such as Max Muncy and Ross Stripling. Although these two key players are not on this top 5 list due to their appropriate hype and appreciation, they represent the type of players that we will be talking about. These are the guys that do their jobs day in and day out and keep the train rolling in a behind the scenes fashion.
While Fields is currently on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, he has performed well for the Dodgers in 2018. He has posted a 2.36 ERA and 0.932 WHIP over 34.1 innings pitched. These are the type of numbers you want to see from a middle reliever. He has even filled in for Kenley Jansen on occasion and recorded 2 saves for the Dodgers thus far. Although he has not pitched in the month of July, the Dodgers will be thrilled to have him back as a bullpen option soon.
How did Buehler make it on this list? Mainly because he has been overshadowed a bit by the excellent performances by the likes of Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, and Ross Stripling. While I am in no way saying that the Dodger community underrates the potential of Walker Buehler as a future ace and all-star, I do believe that the majority of us do not understand how truly magnificent he was before hitting the disabled list on June 12th. Since his return, he has struggled admittedly but will soon return to form as he was due for some regression to the mean.
Walker Buehler is a pleasure to watch pitch. 7 innings on 93 pitches. He had 8 SO and no walks. Gives up 1 ER on 4 H. Leaves with a 2-1 lead.
— Alanna Rizzo (@alannarizzo) May 27, 2018
From April to the beginning of June, Buehler compiled the following line: 9 starts, 6-3 record, 2.63 ERA, and has kept hitters to a .203 batting average. Those are the type of numbers that prevents the Dodger front office from trading you even amidst intense interest from other teams.
Ever since the Dodgers claimed Goeddel off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, he has produced. With a mid-90s fourseam fastball and a devastating splitter that leaves batters chasing, Goeddel has become a rather consistent presence in the bullpen. Posting a 2.67 ERA and 10.7 K/9 (elite) Goeddel has shined as a Dodger.
Perhaps the greatest asset Goeddel brings to the Dodger bullpen is his ability to retire batters from both sides of the plate. As a right-handed pitcher, he should naturally have an advantage against right-handed batters. Since becoming a Dodger, right-handed batters have batted only .222 against him. What all the more impressive, left-handed hitters are hitting a meager .151 against him. That is enough for Erik Goeddel to earn my number 3 spot on the underrated player list thus far in 2018.
Erik Goeddel this month: 7 games, 7 2/3 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) July 29, 2018
For the majority of 2018 critics have accused Chris Taylor of regression, pointing to last year’s success as a fluke. The reality is last year’s sky-high production was unsustainable but was in no way a fluke. Taylor reformed his swing to improve his launch angle before coming over to the Dodgers in 2016 and began to reap the benefits during the start of the 2017 season. Taylor has very quietly posted effective numbers for a hitter atop the lineup in 2018.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the 2017 season verses the 2018 season thus far:
Furthermore, he is currently leading all Dodger position players in WAR with a healthy 3.2. Yes, you read that right. Taylor has been arguably the most valuable position player for the Dodgers in 2018 even over the likes of Max Muncy, Matt Kemp, and Justin Turner. This is all while filling in for an injured Corey Seager at shortstop which has not been his typical fielding position. In terms of the all-around baseball player, no one on the Dodgers does it better than Chris Taylor. Not even my number 1# underrated pick takes that crown who is a utility man himself.
Hernandez is hitting for a .218 AVG, strikes out 19.5% of the time at the plate, and owns a .213 BABIP. So why in the world do I consider him the #1 underrated player on the Dodger squad? Because he hits the long ball, fields every position on the field except catcher (fingers crossed we’ll see that this season), and has clutch moment after clutch moment.
Enrique Hernandez pointed to this sign next to the visitors dugout at Wrigley Field. “If you hit three homers in a playoff game here, you get your own office.” pic.twitter.com/H7miEeQqVK
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) June 18, 2018
Kike fields every position for the Dodgers and can be plugged into a lineup in a moments notice without a concern. His current fielding percentage of all positions combined in 2018 is a stellar .990. he has only made 4
errors on the year which is remarkable when you think of how many different positions he is being asked to play and when he is basically playing every day.
Now how about his bat? Kike has clubbed 17 homers on the year which is tied for the second most on the team behind Max Muncy. He also carries the 6th highest WAR on the team among position players with a 1.4 rating which is excellent for a utility player.
Finally, Kike has a number of qualities that cannot be measured on paper. He is an excellent clubhouse presence that keeps the team laughing and in good spirits at all times. Don’t believe me? The next Dodger game you watch look for Kike in the dugout after a teammate hits a home run. You’ll laugh your head off with the celebration he will give. Furthermore, Kike has shown consistently that he loves the big moment and can shine during it. Who could forget this “magic trick” slide to walk off against the Rangers earlier in the year?
[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-ross-stripling-placed-on-disabled-list-bh0796/2018/07/30/”]Stripling Placed on DL[/button]